All the Wrong Words

I’m feeling frustrated by words.  Lately I can’t seem to find the right ones.  I think I’m being clear, but then people misunderstand or get hurt or angry.  I used to be good with words.  I used to be a writer–I did an MFA-level program in creative writing–but now I don’t write.  Now I can’t even make myself understood.

It feels unbearable, as melodramatic as it sounds.

I finally found my voice when I got away from my family, but I don’t have the words I need anymore.  What’s the point of a voice if the words are lifeless?

God, I sound angsty and melodramatic.  (A judgment that results, at least in part, from all that education in creative writing.)

So I’m borrowing someone else’s words.  I do that a lot these days.  These are a few poems from David Budbill’s collection Moment to Moment, which I think everyone everywhere should read.


Trying to Be Who I Already Am


People tell me I am arrogant and pigheaded,

narrow-minded and vain

because I won’t follow this week’s guru into his

seventeen steps for improving my life.


Well, I’m over here in a different place—

with T’ao Ch’ien who says,

My nature comes of itself. It isn’t something

you can force into line.


So, please, leave me alone.

I don’t want your advice.

I’m just trying to be

who I already am.




My Fate Is to Rebel


If you say yes,

I’ll say no.


If poetry is this,

I’ll write not-this.


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